Celebrating One Year! by Lisa Brittain

Celebrating One Year!  by Lisa Brittain

I could feel the heartache of their struggle and the warmth of their devoted friendship. And each day during the month of October 2017, I awoke early to meet Holy Spirit in prayer over these two women while gleaning the Truth of God’s word for me. I typed out the lessons for each day and posted them on my blog as my sleepy eyes became invigorated for the workday ahead.

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Saturday Share: Maureen and Me. by Kitty Foth-Regner

It’s funny how the first person you knew with a certain name can influence your feelings about that name forever. Thanks to memorable characters from the distant past, my list of favorite names includes Emily, Alison, Cathy, Sam, Joe, and Fred … and of course there’s a counter-list of names that give me the creeps.

And then there’s the name Maureen.

In the early 60s, when I was around 10, my daddy the civil engineer was doing some business with a fellow named Jack DeWitt. One day Mr. DeWitt brought his wife and little girl to visit us in Green Bay, Wisconsin, from their home in Mount Horeb, over 150 miles away.

Maureen was just my age, although much taller and neater than I, and she must’ve been awfully nice. Her visit has been etched in my memory by a couple of snapshots and a thank-you letter from her that has somehow survived nearly a half-century of household moves and spring cleanings.

Saturday Share with Kitty. Maureen and me pic.063018.jpg

For some reason, I never came across another Maureen in the decades that followed – until a sunny Saturday, August afternoon, when I came home from the grocery store to find a lovely message waiting on voice mail. It had been left by a woman named Maureen Enriquez. She lived not far from us, she said and had just finished reading Heaven Without Her -- a first-person account of my journey from feminist atheism to unshakable faith in Jesus Christ in the wake of my beloved Christian mother’s death.

“I’ve never called an author before,” the woman said, “but I just wanted to let you know how much I identified with your story!”

I picked up the phone and called “Maureen II,” as I’d already dubbed the bold Mrs. Enriquez. Learning that she and her husband were new Christians with a great interest in the Bible, I invited them to my Bible-teaching New Testament church. They showed up the following Sunday.

Once die-hard feminist career junkies, Maureen and I still worked long hours. So it was that nearly three months passed before we were able to do anything more than chat before and after church services. But finally, in early November of that year, she and I met in a rustic 19th-century farmhouse restaurant for sandwiches.

Over the next hour, we found to our astonishment that our lives had been practically mirror images in key respects: We’d been born in the same year and had known the joy of storybook childhoods lived out in small Wisconsin towns. We’d both been well-raised (and well-churched) by loving parents against whom we had rebelled early, often and finally completed. Our dads had both been self-employed, well-respected in their professions and communities. We’d even both been crazy about everything from dogs, horses and tiger lilies to dirndl dresses straight from Germany.
 
As we were finishing up our sandwiches, Maureen said something that prompted me to ask her maiden name – a non sequitur, it would seem, but for some reason, the question just popped out.

“DeWitt,” she said hesitantly, apparently finding it an odd question herself.

I gasped. “Maureen,” I said, almost unable to breathe, “is your father’s name Jack?”

She literally did a double-take. “How did you know?”

“Did you grow up in Mount Horeb?”

“I never told you that!”

And so it was that I discovered Maureen II was actually one and the same as Maureen I, the little girl who’d come to visit nearly a half-century ago.

So unbelievable was this discovery that she even called her 90-year-old father to see if it could possibly be true. Jack not only remembered my dad, who had died in 1970; he said they’d traveled to Germany together on business back in the 1960s.

Maureen and I jabbered until the restaurant closed for the day, then parted reluctantly. It wasn’t until later that I realized I’d forgotten to tell my new old friend one of the most amazing facts of all: that in chapter 27 of Heaven Without Her, I’d named another long-ago little girl Maureen because I flat-out couldn’t remember that little girl’s name.

This in spite of the fact that that little girl had been my best friend during the remarkable summer of 1961, when my parents had left me, then eight, with family friends while they headed off to Europe. It was the summer that would, 40 years later, help me see the world with eternal eyes, as a heaven-bound child of God whose beloved parents have simply gone on ahead.
 
It was such a heartfelt story for me that I emailed Maureen to tell her about it, inserting a little passage from chapter 27 to jog her memory:
 
Arlene even found a playmate for me. Her name was Maureen. She was my age and lived up the hill from Arlene’s house. Her house was exotic, too: it had no upstairs, and her backyard was all wooded, and there were these beautiful flowers in front, in a bed framed by split-rail fencing. I remember in particular stunning orange blossoms with freckles, which my new friend called tiger lilies.
 
“Imagine that,” I typed. “You had such an impact on me that I even named this wonderful little girl after you!”

A little while later, Maureen emailed me back.

“My parents just about killed themselves,” she’d written, “laying down that split-rail fencing.”

Then, to make sure I didn’t miss her point, she added, “It completely escaped me that while reading chapter 27 I was reading about myself!”

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
— 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 niv

I read these things through tears of joy, overwhelmed by a God who loves us enough to let us see His hand on our lives.

Perhaps that was His sole purpose in arranging this reunion. Or perhaps there are many others that Maureen and I will discover some happy day, now that we’ve both bounded through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. Imagine how astounding it will be when we are able to examine the tapestry of this world and see the threads that have brought each of us into His kingdom forevermore!

There’s a post-script to this story. A few weeks later, right before Christmas, Maureen and I drove through a snowstorm to visit her parents for a joyful reunion. We were even able to solve a final mystery: how she’d come across Heaven Without Her in the first place.

It turned out that her older brother had seen a review of my book in Acts & Facts magazine, a publication of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas. It’s an outstanding magazine, but not one you’d find at your local newsstand. Yet he had stumbled across it, read the review, and was intrigued enough to seek the book out online – a first for him, he said. Then, liking the story, he took the unusual step of sending it to his sister Maureen.

The rest, as they say, is history. 


~ Meet Kitty Foth-Regner ~

Saturday Share with Kitty. Maureen and me. author head shot.png

Kitty Foth-Regner was a feminist atheist for the first half of her adult life—until her Christian mother stood on the cusp of eternity, sending her off on a personal quest for truth. Her memoir Heaven Without Her (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins) is an enthusiastically endorsed account of that quest. 

A retired copywriter, Kitty is a 70-hour-a-month nursing-home volunteer at the facility where her mother lived and died. She recently released The Song of Sadie Sparrow (FaithHappenings Publishers)—a novel celebrating three women, representing three different generations and worldviews, who meet in a nursing home and impact each other’s lives, perhaps for all eternity. 

You’ll find her Golden Years and Eternal Eyes blogs at www.EverlastingPlace.com.

My sister. A Marine. by Lisa Tweedy

My sister. A Marine.  by Lisa Tweedy

I have been all kinds of emotional these past ten days.  I can’t put into words how proud I am of her for becoming a Marine.  I am proud of her because she has accomplished something that not everyone can.  I am proud of her because as a woman she will train and be tested the same as the men in her company.  I am proud of her because she is not afraid.  I am proud of her because she does not let her size hold her back.  I am proud of her because she desires to serve others and not only herself. 

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The best Saturday of my Life by Lisa Brittain

household of faith.png

This day, May 21, 1988, at 2 PM in the afternoon marked the fulfillment of many years of dreaming and months of planning for yours truly and groom.  After a week of South Florida spring rains and my incessant begging of God for a sunny wedding day, my perfect day arrived!

Sunny, humid and low 90's with barely a cloud in the sky.  Yes, exactly what I had in mind!

Then again, the hair appointment results were not at all what I had hoped.  She, the hair stylist, didn't believe in hairspray.  What hairstylist doesn't believe in 'mucho' amounts of hair product?  In 1988? Are you kidding me? 

Good thing I wore the hat rather than the tiara!

Randy and Lisa Wedding 5211988.jpg

My parents were the best.  They completely bought into the wedding day plans and made the day fancier than I would have.  Mom managed the fabulous catering and insisted on real flowers for the day.  Dad arranged for a local nursery to fill the choir loft of the church with palm trees and insisted on a videographer.

Family and friends gathered.  My groom and I were giddy, tan and in love.  The songs were our favorite wedding tunes.  And the vows... they were special.  I wrote them and my groom approved them.

I choose you alone, Randy, to love and to cherish throughout all the changes life will bring.

I dedicate myself to you alone, Randy, to become one with you and to encourage you in your life's work so that together we may serve God, each other, our family, friends, and others as long as we both shall live.

God be with us.

We were excited to say these words to one another.  Wholeheartedly, we intended to keep our vows.  Even our pastor validated our words of commitment to one another as beautiful.  At just the appropriate time, we looked each other square in each other's teary eyes and with quivering lips of utmost sincerity repeated our vow promises to one another.

Truth is, we just didn't know what the words really meant.  Our relationship had barely been tested in love and in commitment.  Our young relationship, normal as any other, had faced some differences of opinion and overcome a few squabbles.  Still, we had always been able to retreat to our separate homes and cool off.  We had not yet faced the time we would have to choose to sleep side by side from opposite viewpoints.  There was yet much to learn in the area of compromise, white flags and peace treaties!

Young in our mid-twenties, it seemed obvious that we would choose each other alone to love and to cherish.  Look at us, we chose the popular wedding scriptures from 1 Corinthians 13 regarding the meaning of love, but our love had not been weather tested.  We had no idea the following 7 words would be the proof of our vow to love and cherish each other alone.

throughout all the changes life would bring
4 of us at Seagrove Beach square.JPG

My groom and I recognized life would bring many changes.  We thought we knew exactly what those changes would be too.  All those life changes had been neatly planned out - church membership, real estate, career, children, vehicles, and vacation choices.  Oh, the illusion of control!  

Oh, but Rev. Tommy Watson; he was the wise one!  Apparently, he had officiated a few hundred weddings in his day.  From his own life experience as a married man he knew.  He emphasized this one.

Love never fails 1 Corinthians 13:8

We had no idea the roads we would travel, the twists and turns, and suddenly changing scenery, topography and climate change we would encounter over the years of our lives.  We did know we would traverse them together.

My first true test would come almost immediately after our honeymoon was complete.  Having just vowed 'I would dedicate myself to my groom alone to become one with him and to encourage him in his life's work', I was suddenly faced with the reality his life work would soon move us north out of my Florida home.  That might sound silly, but never in my wildest imagination had I considered having to move away from the Sunshine State!

SS with Lisa 1 corinth 13.8.png

Even as youngsters we knew the right answer for our faith-life mission.  The Sunday School answer was to serve and serve in the proper order - God, each other, our family, friends, and others.  We knew what was required of us and believed it too.  It was right and correct and properly responsible to commit for all the rest of our days.  Yet, neither one of us had ever tasted true sacrificial service.  We were selfish with our wants and desires. 

(Case in point, see my attitude toward moving north to support my husband in his career.  I was sure he could find another job IN FLORIDA.)

In short, we had no idea of what we were promising each other before God and man on that momentous, life-altering day.  No idea!

And yet, here we are thirty years later, a bit more wise, seasoned and flexible.  We've served as sandpaper to smooth out each other's sharp edges.  Truly, we've strengthened one another as iron sharpens iron.

Me and Randy.jpg

My groom and I, we grew together and then multiplied to a family of four.  For a number of years, we divided ourselves too thin and managed life well together, but lost sight of intimacy.  Finally, we found each other again and learned the deeper lessons of love, faith, hope and JOY in the dry and crusty parts of our journey.

As I look back on the marriage path we've traveled, I see thirty exciting, scary, funny, amazing, sad, prosperous, salty-sweet, grace-filled, faithful, lonely, lean, and abundantly joyful years of life lived full to overflowing.

We're still learning the true meaning of the words we vowed to one another way back at the beginning.  I hope, and I am sure my groom too, we will continue building, renovating and establishing this Brittain household of faith for many, many years to come and for many generations to follow.

God be with us!